London: A simple saliva test to detect the deadly Ebola infection has been found effective under field conditions in Senegal and Guinea, a new study says.
The sophisticated point-of-care saliva test can be contained within a suitcase-sized mobile laboratory.
Three mobile labs are now deployed in Senegal and Guinea and a test evaluation of 928 samples showed it performs better than a widely used World Health Organisation recommended test.
"There are more than 25 laboratories in West Africa and everyone is using different tests," said one of the researchers Manfred Weidmann from University of Stirling, Scotland.
"Ours, which uses a method called recombinase polymerase amplification, was compared to two other tests and results show it can be reliably used without the need for a confirmatory test, and it appears to outperform a widely used WHO recommended test,” Weidmann noted.
There has been a huge push for robotic testing systems for Ebola detection, but they are difficult to establish and expensive to maintain.
"Our project has successfully developed and deployed a low cost mobile laboratory using a rapid, highly sensitive and specific assay which can be stored at room temperature and operated by local teams with its own energy supply," Weidmann said.
The results were published in the journal Eurosurveillance.